Monday, August 22, 2011

Big Day (Follow-up to Achilles Ankle)

I posted this on Barefoot Ted's Huaraches group the other day:

Subject: "Big Day

"So as we've discussed, I've been spending most of my running energy trying to get my weaker leg up to par. The four things that I've found helpful so far are:

"1. Making sure I'm using both legs equally. This requires analyzing all the movements I make during the day, and trying to equalize them, to the extent possible (the accelerator is still on the right side of the drivers seat. :)

"2. Balancing on each leg as often as possible. This is great for standing in lines.

"3. Subset of the above, but I've been making sure that (since I wear shoes and socks to work) I put on my shoes and socks while standing on one leg, including tying them. Same for taking them off. This is often done at the parking lot at work.

"4. Long, slow runs. This has had a really surprising impact on the strength of both my legs. I feel like I'm getting a better workout, and yet my legs are less tired. We've covered all this in the Maffetone threads. I run 7 miles, then take off my shoes and run barefoot for the last three, when my legs are the most tired and most likely to get sloppy. All of my leg-related workouts (especially lunges) have gotten much easier since I started this.

"So one of the exercises I've found incredibly difficult to do on the weak leg is jumping. Start with both legs, jump over a small object, and land on one. Repeat, switching the landing leg. This has been pretty trivial with the strong leg, but really hard to do with the weak leg.

"I've not done this one in a while. Today I tried it, did the first jump onto the weak leg. Stuck it, perfectly. Felt like landing on velcro. It did get tired a bit after a few attempts, but this was huge progress. I'm very excited.

"Things that didn't seem to make any difference: balancing on a bosu ball on each leg."

Little did I know... Two days later I posted this (in the same thread):

"Wow, that really was turning the corner. Today I ran 9 miles. I was planning on 6, and was doing a run to break in Ted's sandals. I ran 3 in those, and brought my feet along as the backup.

"I've not been able to run more than three miles barefoot because my bad foot takes such a beating. It's rare that it finishes a run without blisters or a major hotspot.

"I got to the 5 mile point, and the feet felt great. Ran 4 more miles, one on a trail, and got home and the bad foot felt perfectly fine. No blisters, no hotspots.

"Not 100%, but this was major improvement.

"I finally feel like I'm in the home stretch on this issue."

The original post gives all the background on this issue, except for this: I think this issue started when my right foot was put in a cast when I was 11 or so. I've been compensating for a weak leg for 32 years. Wow. I can't think of any other event that could account for this leg strength discrepency, and the injuries to the weaker leg have been consistent over that time. I find it mind-boggling that a bad movement pattern could persist for that long, but from what I've been reading on Ted's group, I'm far from the only one with a problem like this.

Well, that was Saturday, and since I believe in "too much is never enough..."